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Consumer Group Launches Internet Campaign Targeting WellPoint Pay Packages
Santa Monica, CA -- A consumer group that crafted landmark Patients' Bill of Rights legislation has launched a new Internet campaign complete with flash video animation targeting excessive health insurance costs in the wake of a recent merger that created the nation's largest health insurer, WellPoint, and awarded former Blue Cross of California CEO Leonard Schaeffer $250 million in cash and stock. To watch the animation visit: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/healthcare/PigPeople/

FTCR is now collecting signatures on an Internet petition urging Governor Schwarzenegger, Insurance Commissioner Garamendi, and the State Legislature to crack down on insurance company greed by regulating health insurance premiums in the same manner as auto and home insurance premiums under Prop 103. Prop 103 requires insurers to justify rate increases and bans excessive and unfair rates. If policy makers fail to act, petition signers agree to support the policy change in the form of a citizen-backed initiative at the ballot box.

The animation, entitled "Pig People from Outer Space (PPOs)," shows PPOs, HMOs and other health insurers as money hungry aliens that will stop at nothing to gouge unsuspecting business owners, leaving patients uninsured. In the final scene, a caricature of former CEO Leonard Schaeffer is shown lording over piggish insurance aliens.

"The health of millions of patients has been threatened by greedy insurance companies, now patients can fight back with the click of a button," said Jerry Flanagan of FTCR. "The Internet provides a means of quickly organizing millions of consumers and voters, and the time is ripe for swift action."

According to SEC documents and filings made with the California Department of Managed Health Care ("DMHC"), Leonard Schaeffer will receive $250 million dollars in cash and stock as a result of the recent merger between WellPoint, parent company of Blue Cross of California, and Anthem Inc. The DMHC is currently investigating whether Blue Cross of California and WellPoint executives broke promises they made to state regulators to not raise premiums in order to pay for merger-related costs and executive bonuses.

For more information regarding the WellPoint/Anthem merger, go to: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/healthcare/healthcosts/

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The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) is California's leading nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization.